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Bringing Laughter to Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2020 6:00 am

Bringing Laughter to Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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October 13, 2020 6:00 am

Pastor Ted Cunningham shares humorous stories from life with his spouse to illustrate how laughter is a key component for a thriving and lasting marriage. He encourages listeners to discover their "humor muscle" and flex it on a daily basis. (Original air date: Feb. 18, 2020)

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It is something you can get better at starts with the decision that I'm gonna lighten up. I'm not gonna take myself so seriously there to be times in this relationship we need dead serious. But just like date night or an annual abandoned. We need to bring the joy into it. So we go through clearly. All the mental, physical and emotional benefits of this and then end with bullets Ted Cunningham and he's with us today on Focus on the Family Hostess books president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John, here's a revelation here Focus on the Family we love marriage. I hope that's obvious to everybody its foundational to the family of course and we believe it's a gift from God. In fact, that's one reason why we talk so much about marriage here on the program we want to equip you to help you have the best marriage you can have a marriage that's thriving as we say thriving in Christ regardless of what season of life. Urine is a newly married God bless you.

Or as a couple that's been married 4050 years.

There are still things to learn, and I know that's true in my life and I've been married over 30 years, but every damn thing who I could've done that better said that better but one of the great ingredients that I have enjoyed in my marriage with Jane is being able to bring humor into it. It doesn't always work and I'll mail that it but today we want to help you brush up on those comedy skills and not for an audience of many, but for an audience of one, your spouse, and we've invited one of our favorite guests here today, pastor and all-around funny guy Ted Cunningham to help us with this and you'll left along the way, I hope. As we talked to Ted he is the founding pastor of Woodland Hills family church in Branson Missouri is also the author of a love that lasts, which is a brand-new book, Focus on the Family is putting out great.

It is in most material I understand for the book came from Ted's marriage to his wife Amy. I don't Ted welcome to focus like the way you know I'm not just a guess I am a listener of this project. I love Paul and you are right so you and Amy. How long have you been married 23 years that's good and you still left still laugh and laugh and more. Today we did the first 10 verse 20 is so good early in your marriage. You had to find that fun ways of communicating right and how did that come about to see his serious guy even years ago. You're probably pretty funny. Can you just stop being silly and you know sometimes people come up to her at events and they'll say if you like this all the time at home as he always tell jokes. I'm not telling jokes to my wife all the time I cave you heard this one. It's finding the humor in everyday life. That's the emphasis of the book is to be observational in our humor and so you don't have to be a funny guy funny lady.

You don't have to be comedian to find the humor in life for your marriage okay. That right there that I did want to hit that moms will hit it early because temperaments play into this and you're an extrovert.

You can see that you do have a lens in which you see the world with the bitter humor you know I known you long enough to know that when something goes badly for you. You tend to find something funny in it.

I tend to be that way too, but not everybody's wired that way. Some people are very serious about life absolutely is a time and a place for it so it's I don't find the funny in every single thing that happens to us, but as we introduce in the book.

I want a laughter to conflict ratio that laughter is 100 to 1 and Amy is the one that gave us that first ratio.

When I asked her if you were to compare laughs to our conflict.

What would you go over the ratio be and she didn't even she gives answers quick and she Artie has answers and she said hundred one. Okay let me get your best argument for this and they were to move to some examples which are funny but for that person saying you know what it just doesn't come easy to me. I hate to bless the engineer mind.

I know I'm in here from people say I'm funny and I'm an engineer I get that but methodically planning people, engineering people, process, people tend to look at things with you know, maybe less humor.

So tell me again why why do I need to to laugh. It seems frivolous to me yet. I don't know that the Lord would be laughing at these things to your face and getting up at Scalf my wife when we started this book.

She said make sure it is early on that you make it clear to everyone. I am not a comedian. I don't tell jokes in 23 years marriage is maybe told one or two jokes is just not who she is. She's more of a serious person by nature and she looks into every detail of life.

She's into her environment and so she's grateful that we made humor priority in our marriage and so I believe it or not, I always start with Ecclesiastes 7 when it talks about a good name is better than fine perfume in the day of death is better than the day of birth and you like why would you start with the funeral laughter because you read it's better to go to the house of mourning than to a house of feasting, meaning when you go to a funeral. That's a recalibrating event your learning about life and you should be asking questions about how your living how are you honoring other people.

And yet when you go to a party that's a completely different purpose behind, and that's what Scripture says sorrow is better than laughter will because sorrow is a teacher but then face sorrow is good. Laughter is bad, it just laughter has its place and so laughter, a cheerful heart is good medicine when I love about humor and laughter in marriage is it's not only a good medicine but it helps other medicines go down so we can learn a lot in the process and people describe my teaching at church or at conferences and seminars as yet you get us laughing and then you just hit us with something we were expecting that we dial over and with laughter. You kind of pick us back up and you give us a hug in the right right there again like what it's like we just got shot very effective yeah because laughter is a great tool.

Humor is a great way that we can express ourselves through through difficult and challenging times you've answered that. Let's go back to you and Amy and your differences.

I think New York you had something on the New York restaurant. This is an example of how to so I said I was born in the cornfields outside of Chicago, Illinois, northern Illinois and so my favorite meal was meatloaf and mashed potatoes and corn and then come with a iTouches I can eat that.

Every day my wife is a foodie. So the first time she took us to a foodie restaurant and you know what I mean by foodie. It means you spend some money and you're gonna need a snack when you leave you as you are not on leave full and so I already had all sorts of attitude going into the one of the things I love about humor as you can enjoy your spouse's activity or hobby without actually enjoying your spouse's activity or hobby because you're having fun along the way. We walked into this restaurant and I I don't make up one word of this. The waiter comes over with a plank.

I got a cedar plank and he's got a mint leaf sticking out of both sides of it, and I look at a message that the salad is us will restart in this waiter deadpan, and he's a serious as can be.

Says no, the chef picked this earlier today in New Jersey. I'm supposed to be impressed with New Jersey. I don't know what you're zero for what he was very proud of where they got the mint and he said the chef recommends that you rub this over your lips and under your nose and on your chin. I am rolling my eyes restaurant down in a restaurant and he's not joking wants us to prepare ourselves by cleaning our face with this minute and I look over my wife.

She's chuckling because she knows what I'm thinking, which is that's the fun part of being married a long time. You had that conversation, you can laugh because you know how your spouse's processing something my wife fully into it.

She is rubbing the sleep all over her lips and under her nose really into it and I told the guys said you know where I'm from we grew a lot of produce. We just never once thought about rubbing it. Six and I think if a husband and wife are gonna you know be rubbing produce on their faces.

Some we should have some little bit of privacy.

For I need you to back away and he stood there, I wore that mentally found.

I rub it everywhere I was, I was given and he was. He knew I was not appreciating it, but that those of those moments like I've only had one massage in my life. My wife loves massages. We are in the van and and I'll miss you say we're in California so that the event gifted us a couples massage and I hated every single minute of the 60 minute massage.

I felt violated and uncomfortable. I didn't like anything in the entire time coming from underneath the other table.

This is all I heard from my wife because she knew we didn't have to say a word, but she was laughing and having a good time because she knew I was through the whole thing.

And that's what I love about humor in marriage. It's like Amy Dunning had to be here right now and I can tell you completely you there any Sarah McIntyre how she's gonna react to it and that's where you find fun. You know, Ted. Again, some married couples that may not go down as well and I want to explore that little bit were even in that scenario you nonetheless chuckling because she knows in the husband's getting mad not. He's not laughing about in this position were not talking about humor that's biting.

When talking about humor. That's sarcastic the hearing of the flat was when I thought about you mean hurtful constantly ribbing.

It's that lightheartedness that I just see missing and so many marriages and I'll be honest, I think most couples start off lighthearted and I listen to your broadcast. I hear a lot of great stories of couples early on, but then something happens and I think that something that happens is drift right they drift away. It was natural. We say this often, and in marriage teaching. It was natural early in the relationship, but you drifted away from it and all you need to do to make it natural again is become intentional what was natural you now need be intentional with 10, 20, 30 years in and if you become intentional it can become natural again to where it's just the ebb and flow of your daily life as a couple and that's the goal of this right so if you're listening in years. You really struggling here chillout just give it a try and let's listen to some of the ways you can apply that it leads us to what you're calling for call back. I've never heard this term before, but in the book. You described the call back. What is it okay so the call back is why you love your favorite comedians because in you. You've heard the call back a lot.

You just did know that the name of because the call back is when there's a punchline earlier in a set and he brings it back up or she brings it back up off of a different story or a different premise usually gets a bigger laughter as you can see it coming, but it just gets what comedy is.

It's the jostling of the brain. It's the shocking of the brain that I didn't see that that one coming. So for Amy and I that New York restaurant.

I'm not leaving that restaurant without a call back and now my callback is whenever were at my favorite restaurant just lay Cracker Barrel. Now let us leave. I take broccoli on her plate and rub it on my and we have a laugh from something that happened six and that's why, in the book we get. We want couples to figure out what their callbacks are writing down at the end put them in that journal so that you can keep going back to my common inside joke, but there there the callbacks and we have so many callbacks in our marriage, taking everything that's irritating. Frustrating. Annoying that that would just usually great on us and we just keep with all of this is we made the decision were going to enjoy life together. Enjoy life. Yes I like about you have to make the decision and I just want put this out there first because of a couple times in my office and conflict.

If there if they're in need of hope restored and I need to send them to a marriage intensive. I'm not teaching them how to be funny with each other in that moment I'm not teaching them to tell jokes and all that but after they go through the marriage intensive, which is what we hear from couples coming out of the marriage intensive years later, were experiencing levels of marital satisfaction. We never dreamed possible. Then it's at that point you begin to teach them how not to get back into the drift that took you into that and that's when I would begin teaching that couple quality couple time enjoying life together and bring more humor in your minute plays a role exactly in the point is, the callback helps diffuse a lot of situations.

Here's the secret, though with the call back. You have to give it time. Okay, I've made the mistake of bringing humor at the wrong time. Okay, so timing is everything and comedy. We know this.

And so my wife was one day making Brussels sprouts salad. That's how it started) I need a lot of medication out every every party needs a Brussels sprouts salad, but she spent an hour in the kitchen, chop in and cut and icing making the salad beautiful, put it in this bowl and I had bought her the coolest as seen on TV invention I've ever seen. It's a suction lid is just a flat silicone lid that you put on the top of it and when you pick it up its sections to the bowl and in the lid sealed it's it's amazing and so and I watched her picking this up after she made the salad and I could see her processing in her mind. This thing is truly amazing.

Well, the mistake she made as she picked it up and walked over to the refrigerator with it and as she's walking to the refrigerator.

She's not supporting the bottom of the bowl. She looks at me and actually says the words this thing is amazing. As soon as she said, amazing. The bull separated from the lid smashed on the ground, Brussels sprouts, cabbage's everywhere in our kitchen and I lose it a little tear forms in the right corner of her eye she walks over all of the mess into the bedroom which I interpreted to mean your cleaning this up about the lid.

My son Carson walks into the room and knows what happened here I go. Come over here we have a good laugh about 30 minutes later I'm gonna try to use the this thing is amazing call back. Listen, that's not 30 minutes and I do not have time, bringing humor in its another aspect of this, you got a note naming if you'd like some of those suction couplets.

John Teller fanned well if you order now will send you a copy of his book the love that laughs lighten up cut loose and enjoy life together. The authors Ted Cunningham. He's our guest today on Focus on the Family. We do have copies of the book, not the lid@folk.com/broadcast or call 800 a family that I want to hit the benefits of laughter because again for the scientists in the tell me why what's the laughter experience and you mentioned the engineers therein. I love after two which is 38 benefits of laughter right yeah and the purpose love them.

The mental, physical, emotional, relational, and then I and that list with the spiritual, the spiritual benefits the most. Most research went into that chapter of the book, but we we just talk about how it manages stress and you can work through difficult situations and conversations like we just have already really talked about, but it bonds us at ease as tension diffuses anger lightens the mood. I mean and I go all the way through it even makes you more attractive and I tell the guys young guys in our church.

You feel like now never going to find a woman. Well, you don't need.

You know the face of Brad Pitt the body of the rocker, the Tony Stark you well. You need a paycheck and a few jokes as I tell you guys are church sometimes need a paycheck and a few jokes, but women find men with a sense of humor, attractive, and you have sense of humor. That's why we talk about these benefits because it's something you can work on this should be convincing right there.

What's the difference between choosing and pursuing laughter rather than just waiting for it to happen.

How can we choose well. I've always been gripped with Scott Stanley's definition of choice of choosing when he says decisions have power. I love that because we talk about decisions all the time you need to make decisions so this is one of those decisions. A choice that you make, and it has power.

We decided and now that's the decision, but then the pursuing is were looking forward all day long. Worth finding the opportunities I can tell you me laughing six times a day. If that's the average adult laughter that is not for me that is not for my home that is underachieving for all that's way underachieving. I will if I do if I get the luncheon of only last six times. I don't think that's a highly far all of you 30 or 40 times I want to say for the person that doesn't come naturally. That could sound really overwhelming now six times, or for lunch hello dated me yeah and I know their jobs that are serious and you're not cracking jokes and I just want people to get the emphasis of this book is not joke writing the emphasis of this book is finding joy that your heart humor yeah and looking for lighthearted moments throughout the day. We find it in our kids we find in our marriage we can find our jobs we can find it at the DMV we can find it while driving everywhere you turn it just the decision that you make is I can be frustrated on this customer service call right now or I can have fun with it.

That's the pursuit parts I make the decision I'm going to find joy in life.

I'm going to enjoy life with my wife. Ecclesiastes 99, a cheerful heart is good medicine. These are all decisions that we've made. Now we pursue it in the book is full of over 100 practical ways to pursue laughter and humor in your case or somebody who's not had a high degree of humor in their marriage in their say okay I heard Ted Cunningham today on Focus on the Family Avenue, go for tonight.

There humor just bombs and now they may give up, but what would be your encouragement to the person who's attempting humor in their marriage but it's not landing right it sucked.

We've Artie talked about timing, but it I get some low hanging fruit for humor and laughter and I think singing and dancing are the lowest the lowest forms of comedy because people say the same thing. While not good singing will. That's the point right that's way funny I I can't. I don't have rhythm. I can't. I can't dance well that's the point right commitment is everything. I walk off stage after I hear comedian bomb in the domain would happen ago. The problem was. You were committed to the joke when you're not committed to it.

The person receiving is not to be committed to it. We've all seen comedians give up on stage and be like man if they weren't into it on. I could be into it so I think the person who hasn't pursuit. Humor hasn't made the decision to pursue it.

They just haven't been working that muscle. They just gotta get into a point where committed to it and trying and attempting this is a big important part to cover this in the book over actually couple pages so there's physical benefits to laughter will know that you breathe in oxygen-rich air Vanderbilt University, says you know you can burn up to 40 cal with 10 to 15 minutes of belly laughing. That's why say so don't go work out just laugh and this is the cool part.

Your body cannot tell the difference between fake and real laughter so I tell wives when your husband attempting it. Make it right laugh like just make the laughter pursue it in and this is key it.

It'll it'll catch on MD Anderson Cancer treatment centers of America that the Mayo Clinic they have laughter therapy they're not saying that laughter heals the body, but they know laughter is a great way to help people through the treatments and one of the things I do is I just sit around in circles and they fake laugh. Okay, but is a video that fake laughter can turn into real laughter just like a Jan laughter is contagious will will and you watch somebody fake laughing you like this is the weirdest thing I've ever seen and it starts to trigger something in your one of things in people are going to be shocked but I me when the boys in June are praying together with little devotion or something. They were about to pray. Certainly one of the three guys it's never mom it's either me or Trent or Troy. We start giggling about something is fun yeah I mean it's even the ritual sometimes can be quite funny the way we approach it and so one of us will start giggling and it gets the other two of us can change in mom is not someone. This is time before the Lord is like, we can help it.

Okay, yeah, I'm sorry, so sorry try again dear just so funny, but it's there's nothing really funny what's going on with you and will you launching the and something strikes you is funny but doesn't strike your spouses funny you get to giggling. There's been more times and movies were.

I start laughing at my wife laughing and that even becomes a callback of sorts because you get in the car later, and she'll think about should be fallen asleep, and shall think about that and start Lapin and I just start laughing because she's laughing. This is the power of how God created us this laughter. This joy why I just I is why Paul says rejoice I'll say it again rejoice. I mean, these are decision nurses think that there's something in there about vulnerability.

It struck me a moment ago, when you're talking about the ability to sing and dance okay there's a vulnerability in doing that. Gotta be a little emptied of your ego to put yourself in a silly position which again is why think the Lord loves you because it kinda humbles you when you're not taking yourself so seriously all the time and I tell I tell guys is that they do not have a sense of humor and their wanting to figure out how to bring more humor into their marriage and I tell him I just want you to pick one of her favorite songs and sing it to her. They're like oh I don't dinner like across the table in the car while driving because now you have another activity to focus on this always helps uses a guy maybe some background music that will help you figure almost yeah it's just it's like karaoke in the car and you got the overhead lights that I use a spotlight so when it's my turn to sing. I put the spotlight on me and then I turn it off and put it on Amy. There's all sorts of ways that you can do this and what I call again at low hanging fruit to just make the attempt. And I always tell spouses even even with apologies, even if the words are coming out right but you know the heart is there receive it. I say the same thing with humor and laughter. If your spouse is making the attempt that deserves recognition exec that reserves that fake laugh if that's all you this summer.

My girls in particular have watched us interact and there like mom he's just telling you the weather in your laughing about what is it with that, but we've chosen to to do that very thing. Just to encourage each other and to find the humor in some of the silliest thing I hope that they catch that and go into marriage absolutely looking for a guy. This can make them laugh absolutely and and so we talk about this in the book when you get married. There's also this shared sense of humor that you have to develop and that's a whole another level that I enjoy that again we we don't even have to be talking and we can see something and she knows what I'm thinking I know what she's thinking and the laughter starts and and that's that shared sense of humor that you get with the oneness of marriage and you grow into overtime.

That's on encourage young couples with if the joy in the fun in that which was natural early in the relationship don't drift from that.

You have to make over talk about right now intentional and so you have to find ways like it for Amy and I we don't watch heavy movies right we we really don't know nothing is ending wrong dramas or anything like that but our life is serious enough with some the issues we deal with on a regular basis can be quite stressful and so we kind of make sure watch movies that make us laugh and and just and I just I consider him free laughs. You're paying for movie ticket but I mean I consider is not anything I'm working for you know, it's now they are and were able to and in some of the humor in our marriage is bringing stuff from the screen into our marriage. You know, like I always joke with her. I don't know if you ever notice this, but all of these couples that you know don't have jobs and are cuddling in five million-dollar apartments in New York City. I was at the reminder.

I would stay home. Amy and cuddle with you all day and got a job I got a job okay I can do a receipt and I'll say that you are in a movie when she sees some happening on the you know we can't do that right she's like why I go because we have jobs that actually go out and we got this. Your book is just full of great laughing activities and we can do this with their spouses so start by bringing more laughter into your marriage. That's a very inexpensive way cheaper than counseling right now. If you're that place. We need counseling. Don't get me wrong, you need to get serious about that. But if you're just in the normal doldrums of life and marriage seems to be more dry than you remember that in the beginning, trying introducing again more humor into your relationship never at someone's expense but never yeah and having great job at you were were laughing with you and hopefully were laughing at ourselves, but this is a great way again to invoke some lightheartedness in your marriage in here.

Focus were about your marriage. We want you to have a thriving marriage in Christ. And I think God has a great sense of humor. I think his belly laugh. I've often asked myself, what will the belly laugh be like yeah Randy Alcorn is a great job talking about the laughter that Jesus will participate in and be the source of well you sure don't underestimate the power of what you've written in your gradebook and how people can introduce that again laughter into humor into their marriage.

Thank you so much for being with us if you want a copy of the book and join us in ministering here through Focus on the Family make a gift of any amount and will send you a copy of Ted's book to say thank you for helping marriages to thriving Christ and our phone number is 800 the letter a in the word family.

You can donate and get a copy of Ted's book code by calling that number or stopping by Focus on the Family.com/broadcast. And while you're there, be sure to check out our focus on marriage assessment, which is a great little quiz is absolutely free takes just a few minutes and learn areas of strength as well as maybe an area or two to grow when when it comes to your marriage on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team.

Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ


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